If your teeth are stained, yellowing, and unsightly, then the impact on your life can go far beyond a reluctance to smile. Your self-confidence and self-esteem can be slowly whittled away, and it’s hard to feel truly happy if you’re always afraid that showing it with a grin will cause you embarrassment. The obvious answer to this problem is to undergo teeth whitening treatment, but this is an area where a lot of myths have grown up, and there are a lot of charlatans out there promising excellent results in exchange for your hard-earned money.
Before committing yourself to any particular whitening course, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the various methods which can be used. These options come in three main types.
Most at-home whitening systems use chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide to bleach your teeth. These products are available in several forms, including strips, gels with trays, and rinses. Store-bought systems can be used safely, but don’t overuse them, or you could risk developing sensitive teeth and other dental problems. Stop the treatment immediately if you notice any unpleasant side effects, and consider making an appointment with your dentist to make sure no damage has been done.
Strips are a less risky option than trays, as they often fit a variety of mouth sizes more closely, which can help reduce irritation. However, you must be careful to keep them away from your gums because contact with the whitening agents can be irritating to tender flesh.
For a more controlled option, your dentist can perform whitening procedures in his or her surgery. These treatments are usually significantly stronger than store-bought treatments, so they typically produce noticeable results much more quickly than at-home whitening techniques – typically in a couple of hours versus two or more weeks.
The higher concentration of chemicals used in the whitening treatments at the dentist’s office is still safe since the procedure is overseen by a professional. Before beginning, the dentist will carry out an examination to make sure that you are a good candidate for whitening procedures. During the treatment, the office staff will monitor your progress to make sure that it is not causing any unhealthy side effects. Also, the dentist will use devices to protect your gums and cheeks so that the bleaching solution does not come in contact with them.
The dentist may also back up the bleaching chemicals with a laser or light treatment. Some experts believe that the use of lasers or lights makes the whitening procedure more effective, and while studies about improvement in results over the long-term are inconclusive, you may find that this extra option works well for you.
For a compromise between the convenience and lower cost of home treatment and the professional supervision of in-office treatment, consider asking your dentist for a take-home option. Before providing you with a whitening program to use at home, the dentist will evaluate your teeth to make sure that you’re suitable for this sort of tooth care. Next, the dentist will supply you with trays that are tailored specifically for your mouth, making them much safer and more effective than over-the-counter kits. Once at home, you’ll fill these trays with a gel that has the same lower concentration of chemicals that store-bought whitening treatments contain, and so results will be slower than fully supervised treatment.
There are many ways to go about teeth whitening, with results ranging from the reliably pleasing to the somewhat underwhelming. If you’re worried about your stained or yellowing teeth, your first port of call should be to discuss the matter with your dentist, who will be able to offer advice on the best way forward for your circumstances.